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Forest Service Doubles Fleet of Large Firefighting Planes

Forest Service Doubles Fleet of Large Firefighting PlanesThe U.S. Forest Service is putting seven more large airtankers into the skies in an effort to double down in the fight against an “above-normal” fire season, two years after an ABC News investigation found the aging firefighting fleet was struggling to protect American homes and lives. The investigation in 2013 found the Forest Service had been plagued for a decade by a dwindling fleet of large and very large airtankers, aging aircraft often converted from military use that once were relied on by states to aid in large forest fires but were often grounded over safety issues or crashed and were never replaced. The addition of the “next generation” aerial firefighting planes — older passenger jets refurbished to drop 3,000 to 11,000 gallons of fire retardant, depending on the aircraft — is badly needed in western states, notably California, which is suffering a years-long drought and nearly 60,000 wildfires.

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